Thank You to Friends (the New Year’s Post that wasn’t)

I’ve been meaning to write this post since yesterday, you know, one of those “here’s what was good and not so good about last year, and here’s what’s on the to-do list for next” kind of posts, but to be honest, I’m just not feeling all that introspective at the moment. Introspection requires hard thinking, and I’m still enjoying the (relative) leisure of the holiday for what it’s worth.

I could go back and read last year’s New Year post (and I actually did read it yesterday), and think about the things that I wanted to do that went undone (and eventually got dropped altogether for various reasons), and try to figure out what all I want to accomplish this year, but I’m already down for that runaway train that is the quilt book publication and all the other projects that go along with that, and taking the time to list it all out task by task probably isn’t going to get me anywhere at the moment. That and all the rest of the more personal and family things will either get done or they won’t, as time allows.

I will say this: there’s sometimes a lot to be said for being too busy doing to think too much on what’s happening or not happening in life. Events often happen in a certain order and at a certain time because they’re meant to happen that way, despite the fervent massaging we often do trying to make things happen. And that’s about as far into deep introspection as I’m going to go right now.

More importantly, the point of this “New Year’s post that wasn’t” is that I want to tell you how much I appreciate you being here, reading, lurking, commenting, sharing. I enjoy knowing each of you through our conversations here and on your blogs. Thank you for inviting me to share your life at your blog; I’m glad I get to see the world through your eyes every now and again. Have a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2009, friends!

Thankful

Aside from all the important “usuals” like healthy children and family, a wonderful husband and life partner, his good job that keeps us in food and clothing and other assorted necessary and fun things, and just generally a far better life than maybe anyone has any right to expect, I’m greatly thankful for a few more specific things at the moment:

  • I’m actually going to have a book published by this time next year, and I’m on the cusp of that “career in quilting” that I’ve been aiming at for years.
  • I have two wonderful children who are being total troopers through all of my quilting preoccupation, and a husband who plans to cook Thanksgiving dinner himself so that I can work through the day.
  • I have friends that are still my friends, despite my desperate phone calls and emails in which I share this publishing roller coaster that I’m on right now. If you’ve been on the Space Mountain ride at EuroDisney, you’ll know exactly what I’m feeling some days, and I’m thankful that my friends haven’t blocked my email address, removed my blog from their RSS reader and unplugged the phone when they see my number in the caller ID.
  • The above can also be applied to my mom, who would obviously still be my mom, but I’m glad she’s still answering my emails and calls with a sympathetic ear and some good advice and input. It’s sorely needed, and much appreciated.
  • I have readers that are still reading (I think) despite the spotty posting schedule, not much creative content, too few inspiring photos and lack of committed attention to my blog and website. At some point, things will even out and get back to something that resembles normal, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you’re still here through all this. THANK YOU!!

I am truly blessed. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone!

Friends and Connections

Despite the “what not to do” list in the previous post, I really did have a great time at the show. AQS usually puts on a wonderful show, and this one was no exception. I saw (and bought) so many new things in the vendor mall, and made great connections with a number of vendors. I test-drove a couple of longarm machines, even though I’m not really in the market for one at the moment. I think I found the one I want, if I ever do buy one though!

I also made some great connections with the AQS folks while I was there; Kimberly introduced me to Bonnie Browning and Meredith Schroeder, and a whole host of others in the company that I’ve emailed back and forth with over the years when I’ve sent quilts to the show or the Quilt Museum in Paducah. It’s great to be able to put faces with the names I already know. I had a couple of really good meetings, and I hope to be able to share some super exciting news with you very shortly!

But the better part of the show was growing a friendship with Kimberly. We were great friends already, but spending so much time together made it even better I think. People couldn’t believe we’ve only really known each other for a couple of months, I guess because we are so comfortable and get along so well.

Kimberly and I are really good traveling partners. Our internal thermostats are very close most of the time, and we find ourselves reaching for the temperature control in the car to adjust it at about the same moment again and again to keep things within our 3 degree comfort zone. We both love to shop though not necessarily for the same things, but are perfectly happy to separate and shop alone for a bit, and then meet up for a drink or snack later. We tend to like the same kinds of foods and restaurants as well.

Kimberly and Nadine at Des Moines

And don’t get me started on how much time we spend dissolved in laughter when we’re together. Kimberly is “incessantly cheerful” (as one of the other instructors at the show put it), and, well, I’m anything but cheerful, incessantly or otherwise. Being the eternal pessimist that I am, I have a pretty dry and sarcastic sense of humor which cracks her up, and then I’m cracking up too. We seem to balance each other nicely.

Here’s another “what not to do”: never underestimate what an instructor goes through just to show up and teach at one of those shows. I got the inside look at it all hanging out with Kimberly. It’s damn hard work, from hauling all the quilts, books, rulers, class handouts, etc., to being on your feet and “in teaching mode” 8-10 hours per day for classes, and that’s after all the prep work at home. You’re lucky to get lunch, and it’s not like there’s anyone there to help you schlep all the stuff, so you really need the food!

I really enjoyed the time I spent in a couple of Kimberly’s classes watching her teach. She’s so professional and so good at it! She’s much better at it all than I am, and all her students loved her. Despite all the hard work and preparation, she makes it look effortless. I should have been taking notes…

Quilting with K

Look who’s here:

Kimberly

Kimberly came to visit last week, and we had a blast! We quilted (a little), shopped (a bit), ate (lunch and pastries), and gabbed (a lot)! She brought me a pile of goodies:

the Goods

How cool! There’s Kimberly’s Easy Hearts cutting template, a nifty little rotary cutter to go with it, her Easy Star & Geese ruler, and a Simplicity apron pattern. How awesome is it that she has a Simplicity pattern with her name all over it?? And the best part:

More goodies

She brought me my very own copy of her book, Quilt a Travel Souvenir, and signed as well! I’m much more of an armchair traveler than most, and I really enjoyed reading about her European travel experiences that inspired the quilts in the book. It’s truly a beautiful book, with such creative, yummy quilts! I’ve already planned a quilt using the Easy Star & Geese Ruler, and the Easy Hearts template may have inspired something as well.

Kimberly and I have decided to make this quilt/eat/shop/gab thing a regular happening every couple of weeks or so. I don’t expect we’ll run out of things to talk about, that’s for sure! The problem might be actually getting anything quilting-related done while we’re together! Which isn’t really a problem, after all. ;) I’m sure Shadow will be pleased:

Kimberly & Shadow

What is it with this cat?? He totally charmed Kimberly, by only showing his cute, calm, lovable side while she was here. Everyone who visits thinks he’s just precious and such a good kitty! They obviously don’t know the real Shadow, since he’s always on his best behavior for guests. Sheesh. He did steal Kimberly’s chair the moment she got up, of course, but that only endeared him to her even more it seemed. Hmphf. I’m sure his true nature will out eventually! Patches played least in sight, being the big, fat chicken cat that he is. Maybe Kimberly will get to see him at some point after she’s come around a few times. He’s the true cute one, after all.

Kimberly treated me much too grandly while she was here, I must say! “Thank you” just doesn’t quite cover it! We had such a great time, and I can’t wait to do it again in a couple of weeks!

Comings, Goings, and New Friends

Life is funny sometimes. Since my friend Dawn left nearly three years ago, there hasn’t really been anyone close by that I hang out with or quilt with regularly. During one of our last outings just before she moved, we joked that I should put an ad in the paper for a new best friend, something like “Wanted: New best friend; must like quilting, shopping, chocolate and long telephone chats. No small kids. Cat lover a bonus, transportation not required.”

It’s been a pretty dry three years since then. I did feel a connection with Kristin, but she lived in Heidelberg, and we didn’t really have the time to get together again after our quilt day, and then she was on her way out of the Heidelberg area just as soon as I got here. There have been other quilting friends here and there, but not anyone that I could say I had a real connection with.

Quilt a Travel Souvenir

Quilt a Travel Souvenir,
by Kimberly Einmo

Enter Kimberly Einmo. Oddly enough, she used to live in Ramstein, and we met briefly when she was teaching quilting classes in Stuttgart years ago. I watched her quilting career with interest; she wrote Quilt a Travel Souvenir, a great book of quilts and patterns inspired by her European travels while she lived in Germany. She’s back here in Germany now and living in Stuttgart, arriving just after I moved from Stuttgart to Heidelberg. Go figure.

Actually, we can blame the timing of all this on our respective husbands: ITMan was just leaving the company in Stuttgart just as Kimberly’s husband was going to work for the same company, and Kimberly’s husband would have been ITMan’s boss had we stayed in Stuttgart! Perhaps the men knew they shouldn’t get us together, because we’ll probably help each other spend money. Well, not that we really need any help with that, I’m sure. ;)

We decided to get together last Tuesday, and it was just the most fun day! We have so much in common, I feel like I have a quilting sister already. And it’s not just quilting things we have in common either, it’s bunches of other things as well. We had so much to talk about that we couldn’t really finish a subject and say what we wanted to say before we were sidetracked by the next thing and off on another tangent. Kimberly has many of those “best friend” requirements from the ad that Dawn and I joked about: likes quilting, shopping, cats, has older kids, and doesn’t care if I always drive. I don’t know about the chocolate or phone chats yet, but I suspect she can deal with those as well.

By lunchtime, we’d decided that there would be many quilting days together in our future, and we’d just alternate back and forth between our studios in Stuttgart and Heidelberg to meet. Kimberly is teaching classes at the first AQS Quilt Expo in Des Moines, Iowa in October, and since I’ve been wanting to get to a quilt convention soon anyway, I decided to go to Des Moines with her. By Wednesday, I had our airline tickets in my hand! Look out Des Moines, here we come!

When life hands you scraps, make quilts…

Pfft—where did that come from anyway?

I’m not a “scraps” kind of gal, preferring to work with big chunks of fabric when I make quilts, instead of the little oddly shaped leftover bits and pieces filling up the many assorted containers all over my house. When I start a new project, I first go big stash hunting, pulling out at many yardage sized bundles as I can find to create the perfect palette for the idea in my head. When the Big Stash has produced it’s last hopeful candidate, I go to the Little Stash of fat quarters stored in tubs and the process begins all over again. If the palette is still lacking in sufficient variety of color or pattern or amount, I head to the local quilt shop, dragging whatever I’ve already chosen hoping to add to it from the vast selection usually on display there.

Whoever wrote [that] may have intended it as a metaphor of life, but it’s not my metaphor.

Then come the Google searches, and the email and phone calls to friends near and far, in an ever widening and more desperate search for just the right fabrics to make the project successful, let alone make it sing. Way, way down on the list of possibilities are the boxes, bags, buckets, bins and baskets of scraps that bear silent testimony to the quilting projects of the last 18 plus years.

During (infrequent) moments of decluttering and purging unused “stuff” from the house and our lives, I consider taking these space hogging fabric bits straight to the local youth center or Girl Scout camp, secure in the knowledge that the leftovers would be put to good use. Perhaps it’s an unconscious, perverse desire to make a true scrap quilt someday, maybe it’s just a completely unreasonably fear that a fabric depression will soon envelop the entire quilting industry, or possibly when I open the containers to see what’s inside, I see the scattered bits of projects long past and just can’t bear to part with the last little bit of the perfect fabrics, but the bits and pieces of quilting fabrics always end up finding their way back to their secret locations in the house, there to remain forever crumpled. Continue reading